Ditchin’ Dewey: Kendallville the latest library to get rid of the classification method

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (WANE) – For 140 years people have been using the Dewey Decimal System to find books at a library. It’s a classification method that assigns a group of numbers to books and their categories. Some libraries in our area are switching methods including, most recently, the Kendallville Public Library.

“The more harsh term is ‘Ditching Dewey,'” Kendallville Public Library Director Katie Mullins said

For a library-lover, the idea of ditching the Dewey Decimal System was tough for Mullins, but staff at the library has been looking into the option for several years.

“It’s this secret code it feels like,” Mullins said. “We looked at our collection and decided instead of organizing everything by numbers, which has been done for over 100 years, we have decided to organize everything by words.”

The library’s books are now listed alphabetically by category. Mullins says it’s more intuitive for people these days. They are using words, not numbers.

“We tried really hard to make sure everything is alphabetical– animals, business, cooking,” Mullins said.

You can still use the library’s catalog to find a certain book just instead of a list of numbers you’ll find the category to find it.

Employees at the Kendallville Public Library said people respond more to words now not numbers. They even implemented the method in the kids section, but those signs also include a picture because not everyone can read yet.

“I was resistant at first as a librarian and fan of the Dewey Decimal System,” Allen County Library Pontiac Branch Director Lisa Worrell said.

Allen County isn’t doing away with Dewey yet, but at the Pontiac Branch they’re creating larger categories so readers can find more of what they’re looking for in one place. Worrell said methods like Kendallville’s and others are showing how innovative libraries can get.

“When you go to Barnes and Noble you know what section you’re going to not call number,” Worrell said. “I think a lot of our customers have become used to that.”

Locally, the Wells County Public Library has also gotten rid of the Dewey Decimal System.